January 16, 2008

Hone Tuwhare, Poet.

Hone Tuwhare has died today and oh what wonderful writing has he left as his legacy.

To salute him I have reread his poems from my Anthology of New Zealand Poems in English (eds. Jenny Bornholdt, Gregory O'Brian and Mark Williams), and picked out a few to retype and read...

About Hone Tuwhare..
Born in 1922 in Kaikohe, Tuwhare belongs to the Ngapuhi hapus Ngati Korokoro, Ngati Tautahi, Te Popoto, and Uri-O-Hau. An Active trade-unionist, he worked as a boilermaker before becoming a full time writer and performer of his poetry. His collection No Ordinary Sun (Blackwood & Janet Paul, 1964) was the first book of poems by a Maori to be published. In recent years he has read his work in Germany and the United States. He has also written a film script, a play and a short fiction.


I like working near a door, I like to have my work-bench close by, with a locker handy.

Here, the cold creeps in under the big doors, and in the
summer hot dust swirls, clogging the nose. When the
big doors open to admit a lorry-load of steel, conditions
do not improve. Even so, I put up with it, and wouldn't
care to shift to another bench, away from the big doors.

As one may imagine this is a noisy place with smoke rising,
machines thumping and thrusting, people kneading,
shaping, and putting things together. Because I am nearest
to the big doors I am furtherest away
from those who have to come down to shout
instructions in my ear.

I am the first to greet strangers who drift in through
the doors looking for work. I give them as much information
as they require, direct them to the offices, and
acknowledge the casual recognition that one worker
signs to another.

I can always tell the look on the faces of the successful
ones as they hurry away. The look on the faces of the
unlucky I know also, but cannot easily forget.

I have worked here for fifteen months.
It's too good to last.
Orders will fall off
and there will be a reduction in staff.
More people than we can cope with
will be brought in from other lands:
people who are also looking
for something more real, more lasting,
more permanent maybe, than dying...
I really ought to be looking for another job before the axe falls.

These thoughts I push away, I think that I am lucky
to have a postion by the door which open out
to a short alley leading to the main street; console
myself that if the worst happened I at least would have
no great distance to carry my gear box and tool-box
off the premises.

I always like working near a door. I look for a
work-bench hard by - in case an earthquake
occurs and fire breaks out, you know? 1964.

Papa-tu-a-nuku (Earth Mother)

We are stroking, caressing the spine
of the land

We are massaging the ricked
back of the land

with our sore but ever-loving feet:
hell, she loves it!

Squirming, the land wriggles
in delight.
We love her. 1978.

A Fall of Rain at Mitimiti: Hokianga

Drifting on the wind, and through
the broken window of the long house
where you lie, incantory chant
of surf breaking, and the Mass
and the mountain talking.

At your feet two candles puff the
stained faces of the whanau, the vigil
of the bright madonna. See, sand-whipped
the toy church does not flinch.

E moe, e te whaea: wahine rangimarie

Mountain, why do you loom over us like
that, hands on massive hips? Simply
by hooking your fingers to the sea,
rain-squalls swoop like a hawk, suddenly.
Illuminated speeches darken, fade to metallic
drum-taps on the roof.

Anei nga roimata o Rangipapa.

Flat, incomprehensible faces: lips moving
only to oratorical rhythms of the rain:

quite please, I can't hear the words.
And the rain steadying: black sky leaning
against the long house. Sand, wind-sifted
eddying lazily across the beach.

And to a dark song lulling: e to whaea, sleep. 1974.

See more online poems by Hone Tuwhare at: http://www.honetuwhare.co.nz/history.php


David George said...

I turned to your bog on Hone.... his wahre is going to be restored.... he was proud of his Scottish heritage- Aniana or Anderson. he read 'monologue' with relish... ...along with everything else...


Anonymous said...

the poem about a fall of rain in mititmiti was very interesting but there should be some questions so we can understand it more better

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